REALity Question: Do Doers Reflect Their Leaders?

One of my favorite ways to mentor and coach leaders is by allowing open discussions and encouraging questions about issues that are on their minds – current day, real life, practical questions.

So every once in a while I am going to address a question that I receive from another leader. I’m calling these our “REALity Questions,” so you’ll recognize it when I post a new REALity question!

I get a lot of value from the questions I’m asked. It gives me insight into what’s on the minds of fellow leaders. One thing I have learned along my leadership journey is that while the conditions of leading may ebb and flow, the content of leading changes very little. Here’s our first REALity question:

If you have a team full of “doers” – people who come in, make a daily task list, check each item off, and go home – is this a poor reflection of your leadership or just a different reflection of your leadership?

I believe if this happens on a day-in, day-out basis, it probably isn’t a good reflection on the leader. But a “doer” mentality is also a reflection of the teammate’s attitude and spirit to want to be more in life than a worker bee. Both the leader and the teammate have to put in to get something better than the average back out.

The leader is responsible for creating an environment that motivates people to want to give and be more for their team, their leader, and their company. If that sort of environment exists, it’s the employee’s responsibility to take advantage of it and make the most of it.

Let me clarify that getting tasks done is not a bad thing. It’s something we all have to do every day as part of our jobs. But the doing should be combined with growing. And growth happens when the leader encourages and allows his or her people to lead up and across. But the people have to be willing to grow. You see, growth is the responsibility of the leader and the follower. It’s a partnership.

A leader who wants many followers (or worker bees) will never reap the benefits of multiplied growth. That leader will always have to be the driver, which means he or she will become the lid that prevents greater growth of the people and the organization.


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  • Julian Thomas says:

    Great advice. I’ll have them read the posts.

  • Julian Thomas says:

    Linda, If an employee considers themselves a worker bee but asks for growth to the next level, you give them this growth opportunity and there is still fear in their eyes, how can you get them to overcome their fear? Will they always be a worker bee?

    • Linda Sasser says:

      Julian, my best leaders are always a bit fearful when taking on a new level of responsibility. I like to see a bit of fear because to me this means that they respect the weight of their new responsibilities and that they are very concerned about serving well and doing a great job. Hopefully this person you’re referring to has already demonstrated their capabilities before taking on the new growth opportunity. They have shown they can do the job; they just need your coaching and guidance as they grow in their new role. Do this with care and candor. Encourage their growth and encourage them when they do a great job; when they make mistakes, use those mistakes as an opportunity to coach them through the challenge. If your “worker bee” is a great producer but they’re transitioning into more of a leadership-type role, here are a couple of posts that might help you coach this individual as you lead them through the their transition:
      5 Common Challenges and Sacrifices in the Producer to Leader Transition http://www.leadershipwithsass.com/2010/09/5-common-challenges-and-sacrifices-in-the-producer-to-leader-transition/
      From Producer to Leader: When Finishing Last Means You’re First http://www.leadershipwithsass.com/2010/08/from-producer-to-leader-when-finishing-last-means-you%E2%80%99re-first/

      Make sure you remind this person that they should never stop growing; if they feel content and comfortable with where they are, then they aren’t being challenged. That small amount of fear means we are being challenged, and challenges stretch us and make us get better if we choose to rise to the occasion.

  • Ann B. says:

    How do you suggest we make growth a priority where lean resources and daily task list/production is how you are measured in many of today’s organizations?